Research Papers

Truck Drivers – A Population at Risk: Findings from the Canadian Community Health Survey (Bigelow)

Version 1
Date added June 30, 2016
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Category 2016 CARSP XXVI Halifax
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 3A
Author/Auteur Phil Bigelow
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation

Slidedeck Presentation not available (no paper submitted)


Background/Context: Findings from studies conducted in the US and other countries have shown that truck drivers are at increased risk for a number of medical conditions such as cardiovascular disorders, sleep apnea, diabetes, and obesity. Drivers have multiple risk factors associated with these conditions such as high rates of smoking, poor diet, and low levels of physical activity. This constellation of conditions and risk factors is also associated with an increased crash risk which leads to high rates of injury and fatality in drivers and also puts the driving public at risk.

Aims/Objectives: This study examined data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) to better understand the prevalence of driving-related chronic diseases and chronic disease risk factors in Canadian truck drivers.

Methods/Target Group: Truck drivers who responded to the CCHS from 2009-2010 (Cycle 5.1) were compared to other workers to examine differences in the prevalences of a number of lifestyle-related behaviours and medical conditions. Cycle 5.1 was used as this was the last year that occupation was measured in the CCHS. The reporting of occupation made this analysis on truck drivers possible. The CCHS is a cross sectional design survey which had a multi-stage stratified clustering sample design which obtained an excellent sample from all health regions of Canada. Chi-Squared and regression analyses were performed following bootstrapping and application of sample weights. Prevalence Ratios (PR) were computed and adjusted for age, hours worked per week, household income, marital status and education.

Results/Activities: When compared to other working males, truck drivers had adjusted PRs that were significantly different than one for heart disease (1.45), obesity (1.69), being a daily smoker versus not smoking (1.49), reporting use of amphetamines (2.04), being inactive (1.50), and reporting adequate fruit and vegetable intake (0.76). Linear regression modeling showed that smoking and physical activity explained the most variation in BMI.

Truck drivers reported significantly less regular visits with healthcare professionals, poorer health-based knowledge and awareness (concerning the importance of food, and regular healthcare checkup), lower condom usage, lower seat belt usage, and more likely to drive while fatigued.

Discussion/Deliverables: Truck drivers in Canada have prevalence rates of a number of chronic diseases and risk factors that make them a population at increased risk of morbidity and premature mortality. The magnitude of the differences in these prevalences is not as large as reported in US truck drivers whose life expectancy is between 12 and 20 years lower than the population average. Although injuries from motor vehicle crashes is not effectively captured in the CCHS, the findings that truck drivers are significantly more likely to drive while fatigued and less likely to wear seat belts is concerning.

Conclusions: This sample of truck drivers was markedly different from other employed Canadian workers with respect to chronic disease prevalence and overweight. Findings, such as the relationship of physical activity and BMI, will be useful in designing intervention studies to improve the health of truck drivers. More research is needed on truck drivers in Canada to further examine the factors putting them at increased risk.

Phil Bigelow